Well, here it is. This was an amazing event. We had Frankie, Quill, Bobby Rex, Vizual, Tongue Twister, Coopar, Matter, Sean Kray, LSDean and I Kid. There were probably others, but if you seriously think I’m searching ‘Premier Battles poster Shotty vs Shuffle’ on Google Images, you’ve got several other things coming.
Nah, come on.
This whole event was amazing and every battle properly delivered. It was another one of those recent events that had a real old school feel and it makes you really proud of the scene and that’s what it’s all about. Not winning. Nobody cares about winning. Or losing. Especially not me. Fuck you.
Let me start by saying that my battle with Shotty was by far my favourite performance that I’ve done. I’ve never felt so confident on stage, ever. I think this is partly down to the fact that I was the underdog.
This is going to sound twatty, and it might BE twatty, but in my last few battles I haven’t felt like the underdog. I’ve felt like the opposite… the overcat. I feel like, going in, there was more pressure on me to live up to an expectation of winning that, to be honest, stresses me out. As soon as that narrative starts, the weight builds and builds to the point where I just don’t really enjoy the performance or the day itself, because I’m so hyper focused on NOT fucking up.
This was the total inverse of that.
On stage, I felt poised, confident, ready and happy, which is quite unusual for me (when performing) and so this gave me the energy to improvise a little, take a risk on last minute decisions, interrupt myself, briefly joke with Shotty and the people around me whilst going through the rounds. For example, the “that’s what people are saying” when people guessed “that’s what the talk was about” was a decision made on the day, which paid off.
The material itself I am very proud of. Even just the fact that it was a bit more sharp than usual. Not necessarily in performance terms, but the jokes were actually insulting, which is a huge part of battle rap, believe it or not.
I wanted to go a BIT personal and barbed, just to get the point across that I was taking it seriously. There was a huge temptation to approach this battle like “Oh, look at this ME vs SHOTTY?! What’s going on, what am I doing here?!” sort of thing, because a natural thing is to self-deprecate. But I went against those instincts to make something that was totally aimed at my opponent.
Even the concept in the 2nd round was built around something linked solely to him, rather than some obscure idea that somehow connects through some linguistic gymnastics that I try to make fit. Like, what does Heretic have to do with Starbucks? Or Raptor with my mum (don’t even)? This was more direct.
Openers in battles are something I really value and feel are crucial. They let the audience know what your approach to the battle is going to be and here, I feel I did one of my few ‘serious’ openers that I’m really proud of. I took AGES making that opening 8 lines that starts off quite serious and then changes into a more comical, self-referential mood. I tried to keep this throughout the 1st round, jumping from aggression to jokes. Introduce an angle in a pointed way and then flex it to a jokey approach and finish with, God forgive me, some ‘bars’.
The 3rd round I wanted to go for the throat and really break down some elements of, not just Shotty, but battle rappers in general. Some of, what I consider to be, pitfalls of the scene in terms of writing. I’m not saying I know best, and people like what they like, but these are just some things that really annoy me. Like using wordplay for the sake of wordplay, but including someone’s name in there to try and make it feel relevant to them.
Or using wordplay as a crutch, for a lack of creativity. I feel like this gets done a lot. Bars, wordplay, all that stuff is amazing, and not at all easy to write, but real creativity doesn’t have to use those tools every time. Sometimes just saying what you mean succinctly is the most powerful weapon. I wanted to try and showcase that with the line “I think you’re overrated and I think you’re fucking stupid”.
That line is not remarkable in any way at all, but I tried to build it up in a way that something so vague and generic felt really personal. It’s just the fewest words I could use to make a simple point.
Looking back on this battle, I think it’s good and I’m really proud of it. Proud of myself, Shotty, the scene, the crowd, everything. I guess if I could change anything, maybe I would make it a bit LESS referential to UKBR and UK-centric, but then maybe I wouldn’t have been able to rhyme cheeky monkey with Ian Huntley, so, you know. Swings and roundabouts.
Shotty was brilliant. He’s such an intense and intoxicating performer. There’s no question as to why his fanbase is so strong. He’s not only made a name for himself in battling, but music too and that stage craft comes out expertly, every battle. I genuinely don’t think there’s anybody in the UK who can command a room like he can, it’s masterful.
His material was super strong and we got to see more of that humour that usually comes in flashes between the more aggressive material. Here, we had it in buckets and even his more serious attacks were peppered with hilarious asides. If he were to totally focus on comedy in his battles, I’ve no doubt he’d immediately be considered one of the funniest battlers, but the way he managed to walk the line on this between them both was really impressive.
He’s one of only a few battlers from the UK who isn’t remotely afraid to get up in the personal space of their opponent and really deliver their material in their face right in front of them. Quill, Bobby and Raptor are another few who can pull this out and, as much as you might not want it to, it can make such an enormous difference. It’s the believability factor, which creates that suspension of disbelief that leads you to think ‘maybe this is all freestyle?! Maybe they’ll ACTUALLY fight?!’
Shotty had 3 rounds of well-crafted and excellently executed, visceral attacks. Was a scary pleasure to stand in front of them.
In the end, Shotty got the win, with the judges siding 2-1 in his favour. I’m generally not too bothered about winning or losing. I think I won, but then, I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m literally me, so it’s hard not to be biased. I mean, I wank myself off. You know? If I wanked someone else off, it wouldn’t be fair for me to judge that person’s battle. People would say “yeah, he voted for him, but you’ve got to remember, he wanks that guy off.”
Either way, it was an amazing battle that I’m very proud of. Moreso than any other solo battle, for sure. I think a couple of doubles pip the post of this one and mayyyybbee the bad bars battle. But of the non-gimmicked solos, this one is my top from both sides.
If you haven’t seen it, do watch it. Also, Ruin Your Day, the battle rap vloggers have done a ‘Watch’ episode, where they stick on a battle and comment through it, so check that out, too.
By the way, I am acutely aware that the word ‘proud’ occurs over 5 times in this text. Myself and the team are working round the clock to correct this and improve, moving forward.
Thanks for reading, you scum bags. Bye. Pictures taken by the talented Rick Charles @rickcharles on Instagram.
BEHIND THE SCENES.
On the day of the battle, I coerced Theo ‘Marlo’ Marlow to film behind the scenes so that we could keep a record of everything for posterity. Rather than the interesting peek behind the curtain I hoped it would be, it was actually just a couple of twats fucking around London. Either way, here it is.